One pass may have separated Tanner Lee from Patrick O’Brien in Nebraska’s ongoing quarterback battle.
The throw came midway through the second quarter in the Red-White game when Lee delivered this perfect strike to J.D. Spielman from 30 yards out for a touchdown:
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) April 15, 2017
NFL throw. Competition over.
Alright, maybe the race for the No. 1 spot isn’t carved in stone just yet. But as of spring, the starting job belongs to Lee. At this point, it’s hard to argue in favor of O’Brien.
Rather than pitting the dueling passers against each other, Mike Riley opted to keep the two quarterbacks in the same uniform, giving each guy reps with the more experienced offense. The move worked in favor of both signal callers.
With both guys suiting up for the Red, they engineered a lopsided 55-7 win over the White.
Lee finished the day completing 13-0f-19 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns. O’Brien was 11-of-17 for 134 yards with one touchdown pass. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
Having two qualified passers is a good problem to have. That, alone, is reason to smile for Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf.
Sooner rather than later, Lee will probably be the guy for the Huskers. Though he’s the clear favorite, it shouldn’t be construed as a knock against O’Brien and his ability. The redshirt freshman would be more than capable of leading the offense in 2017.
Instead, it’s a compliment to Lee. His passing ability and awareness inside the pocket was even better-than-expected. Even when he moved outside the pocket, the junior was able to deliver the football into tight spaces.
— Omaha Sports Insider (@OSIsports) April 15, 2017
That’s a hard pass to defend. Most of Lee’s throws were hard to cover. It’s going to be difficult for B1G defenses to cover, too.
While O’Brien’s outing was solid, he did make some questionable throws into coverage. His delivery wasn’t as crisp and didn’t have the same downfield accuracy. In other words, O’Brien has some room for improvement. Lee looked polished.
Lee’s extraordinary throw isn’t the only reason he’ll be Nebraska’s starter come fall. One play isn’t the deciding factor in these type of battles. But it does represent that his arm is further along than O’Brien’s. That was noticeable all throughout the spring game.
What questions remained about each quarterback headed into the scrimmage were answered. Despite similar numbers in the Red-White game, the competition is over.
The starting job at Nebraska is Lee’s to lose.